Trans Theories

Coming Out to Parents

I was visiting my sister in Chicago while my mother was in town from Korea. She always went to see my sister as she had a small baby. My sister left and took the baby with her to give us a little bit of privacy. I came out to her a few months back and she knew that I had to come out to our mother. I couldn’t avoid it anymore. I spent countless hours pondering exactly how to say it. Working through in my head how I wanted to phrase it. Going through scenarios and wondering if she would understand what I am saying. How I would bridge the language gap.

My mother was in the bed relaxing. I crawled in next to her. Preparing to turn my and her life upside down… Umma… I am Trans…

I knew my mother was open to gay people as my sister introduced her to many of her gay friends. I never dared talk about my gay friends as it would potentially open the door to talking about my sexuality or my gender identity. Being open to gay people is one thing but trans is asking for so much. To learn your child is transgender?

One of the things that was always a concern for me was being a burden. I always feel like a burden. My parents and my grandparents sacrificed so much for me to be able to grow up in the states. My college educated mother worked night shift jobs in a factory. My father lived alone in Korea to send us money. My grandparents worked well into their old age just so that we could go to school in the states. And I felt that I was being selfish. That I would dare to want something that is just purely for my own happiness. And that I would ask them to go through this journey with me and accept me for who I am really.

그래? 이제까지 힘들었겠다. She said which roughly translates to… Really? It must have been really difficult till now. I wasn’t prepared for her answer. I didn’t expect her to automatically go to an area of such concern. I asked her if she knew what it meant when I said that I was transgender? If she knew what transgender was? She told me it was ok and that she loves me regardless.

Every single person you come out to is different but there is something really special about coming out to a close family member. If you come out to a friend and they end up rejecting you, you could always make more friends. But your mother? There is no replacing her. For me and so many other people, this is the reason why it is so difficult and scary to come out to close family, even if you trust them to love you regardless, that tiny little doubt represents a chance that you have to be ready and prepared for.

As I explained to my mother exactly how bad it is for LGBTQ people and how often they get rejected by their family, my mother held my hand and told me… never…

I would like to say that things went well from that point, but coming out is a long process. In the coming months our relationship would become strained and filled with awkwardness. I knew my mother didn’t know what to say to me anymore and I didn’t want to talk about my life as if it was some report… I knew my mother needed resources, information, and support but I was unable to provide her with any that would bridge the generational, cultural and language gap that lay between us. I have come out to her and she accepted me but we still grew apart. This is not how it is supposed to happen. If your parents accept you after coming out, you are supposed to grow closer to them…